Q: How did you come up with the idea for Off Island, and why did you include the artist Paul Gauguin as an important part of the novel?
A: The idea occurred to me at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the summer of 2002. I wandered into a Paul Gauguin exhibit and was struck by his letters on display.
Gauguin wrote from Tahiti to his wife, Mette Gad, who was back in Denmark with their five children. He described his affairs with young Tahitian girls in great detail and I thought, There's another story here, from Mette's perspective. I didn't want her to be a victim. So I imagined a different story. Off Island includes various points of view; Mette's is one of them.
FULL INTERVIEW: Deborah Kalb Books